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Full text of "A history of Persia"

4.84                  HISTORY OF PERSIA                  CHAP.
moderate charge of 5 per cent was reduced in the case of
the former to i^ per cent, and in the case of the latter to
z| per cent. On the other hand the duty on one of the
:hief British imports, tea, was raised from 5 per cent to
100 per cent. This preposterous charge has, however,
defeated its own object, by encouraging smuggling in so
valuable and portable an article.
It is now a decade since the tariff was introduced ; and
those who prophesied the disappearance of British trade
must have been agreeably surprised to find that they were
entirely wrong. In a report made by a specially qualified
trade Commissioner in I9O4,1 the trade of Persia with the
British Empire is calculated at exports half a million, and
imports two millions, which is also the average of the two
previous years. In 1911 the imports had risen to over
four millions, while the exports also show distinct
improvement.
The Action of the British Government.—The position of
the British Government at this juncture was difficult. For
nearly a century no special precautions had been taken by
treaty to protect British commercial interests, and we had
been content to claim the same terms as had been accorded
to Russia by the treaty of Turkomanchai. We had not
realized, as Chirol puts it,cc that its maintenance depended
not uponPersia and ourselves,but upon Persia and Russia."
The situation was one of extreme urgency. We were
faced with a new tariff which was due to come into force
in February 1903. Two courses were open. One was
to protest and to wait for an opportunity at which pressure
might be brought on Persia to negotiate a special treaty.
The objection to this course was that Russia might, in the
light of the experience gained in the working of the new
tariff, find means of still further differentiating against
British trade. The second course was to negotiate a
separate treaty which would recognize the accomplished
fact and prevent worse from befalling us. The latter
alternative was believed to be the least disadvantageous,
and by a convention signed in February 1903, the best
was made of a bad job.
* Blue Book (Cd.